James Conkling

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James Conkling was a music and broadcasting executive who helped create the Grammy Awards and the Columbia Record Club (now Columbia House). He was the head of artists and repertory at Capitol Records.

He became president of Columbia Records in 1951. At Columbia, he was instrumental in establishing the 12-inch LP as a medium for popular music, which had previously been sold on singles and 10-inch EP’s. He kept the price under $4 an LP by convincing publishers to lower their royalties temporarily for songs on LP’s.

In 1957, he helped found the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (which gives the Grammy Awards), and became chairman of the academy. In 1958, Conkling became the first president of Warner Brothers Records.

He joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and helped found the Bonneville International Corporation and held top executive positions for 20 years. After which—in 1981—President Ronald Reagan named him to direct the Voice of America, which he filled for 10 months.

Conkling was born in 1915 in East Orange, New Jersey, and graduated from Dartmouth College. He did graduate studies at the University of Pennsylvania. He served in the Navy during World War II.

He and his wife, Donna, had five children, including author Chris Conkling. He died on April 12, 1998.